Category Archives: Reading

Picky Reader Interview – Confess by Colleen Hoover


Since my blog is called Reading, Writing and Romancing I thought I’d find out what readers are reading and why. This is my second Picky Reader Interview:

Briefly describe yourself:

My name is Danielle and I’m a cake decorator in my mid-(oh god, or is it late!?) twenties, married with 3 fur babies, descended from a long line of book lovers (2nd generation at least).

Have you read a book recently that you loved? Title and author name please if you have it.

Confess by Colleen Hoover

Why did you love this book? 

I love all of this author’s books. I guess they are considered New Adult. They are well written with convincing voice (written in 1st person, this one with alternating narrators) The storylines are dramatic and soap-operaesque, and Ms. Hoover is an expert at dropping just enough hints that you think you know what’s going on but you never do until she ties it all together so completely perfectly at the end.

Where did you get this book?

I have read this author before. I think I found her through friends’ reviews on Goodreads.

Do you have a favorite genre? What genres do you regularly read?

My favorite genre at the moment is romance, but I also like New Adult and Historical Fiction. I used to read Young Adult but I haven’t for a long time, and I’ll ready some general fiction or literary fiction from time to time.

Do you have a favorite author? Who? Why?

I’m not sure I have a favorite author, but authors who I will buy every time they release a new book would include Colleen Hoover, Monica McCarty, Alessandra Torre, Donna Thorland…I guess it’s a long list but these are authors I will even pre-order books from because I know I’ll want to read them and I don’t want to forget to get their new books.

What will make you put down a book you’ve started and refuse to read any more of it? 

Too stupid to live heroines, slow and pointless plots, “dominant” heroes who border on abusive and cruel.

Do you read primarily print versions or digital versions?

Digital; I rarely buy print books any more.

If digital, what is your primary device?

Kindle or Kindle app on my iPhone.

As a general rule do you feel books are reasonably priced?

Yes, especially on Kindle.

Would price stop you from buying a book you really wanted?

If it was a book I really wanted from an author I knew I liked, I don’t think price would stop me. The other day I saw a romance that looked cute on Goodreads, but was $12.99 on Kindle and I deemed that too much. 

Thanks, Danielle. Maybe you’d enjoy Nobody’s Fool, my latest romantic comedy from Samhain Publishing.NobodysFool72sm



Picky Reader Interview

ajtillock2013 012My blog is called Reading, Writing and Romancing so I thought I’d find out what readers are reading and why.  I use to do a little review blog called Picky Reader to keep track of the books I read…but then I found Goodreads. However, I’ve decided to resurrect Picky Reader. Below is the first interview in the “Picky Reader Interview” series with my friend Lynn who always seems to find books she can get excited about.

Have you read a book recently that you loved?  Title and author name please if you have it.

 The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder 


Why did you love this book?

It completely surprised me. The story was about the coming of age of a slightly cynical 17-year-old girl who has terminal cancer. It was funny and imaginative and heart breaking at the same time.

Where did you get this book?

I bought it at a dollar store.

Do you know what it was about the book that made you pick it up?  If so, what was it?

The title caught my attention. Along with the tag line: One Summer to Live a Lifetime.

Do  you have a favorite genre?  What genres do you regularly read?

I read only fiction.  I enjoy mysteries the most. I also like historical fiction. 

Do you have a favorite author? Who? Why?

No,  in fact, I’m embarrassed to admit I rarely remember the names of authors. I occasionally remember one.

 What will make you put down a book you’ve started and refuse to read any more of it?

If it is syrupy sweet.

 Do you read primarily print versions or digital versions?

I read regular print but I enjoy listening to books on CD when I am driving long distances. I don’t have a “device.”

As a general rule do you feel books are reasonably priced?

Yes,  I do. Plus, you can usually find books on sale. I am also a big fan of using the library. 

Would price stop you from buying a book you really wanted?

Yes. Eventually there is a limit. But I am comfortable with not owning a book and just borrowing it from a friend or checking it out from the library. 

Lynn  lives in Southwest Florida and has a background in public relations and marketing.2015-03-17 08.24.20

Barb’s Notes:  Amazing what a great tag line can do!  I think I’m going to have to start checking out the dollar store book offerings. I am also okay with not owning books and I love libraries. I’m not so great at remembering author names, either.  That’s why I track what I read (and like) on Goodreads. (See below.) Do I want to read The Probability of Miracles? Definitely.

If you’d like to be part of my Reading blog series comment below and leave an email contract address.

If you like contemporary romance, women’s fiction or screwball fantasy, check out my web site: www.barbara


Win a Free Book

NobodysFool72smNobody’s Fool

The following is excerpted from the romantic comedy NOBODY’S FOOL by Barbara Meyers, release date 1/6/15 from Samhain Publishing —

He wouldn’t fall for her again, wouldn’t tell her how he’d felt all those years ago or what she’d done to him when she’d left. He’d get the hell out of Dodge before he made a fool of himself by letting on that he still had a thing for her. That was the plan, anyway.

Jolie looked puzzled as he turned into the parking lot of Smokey’s Grill & Chill and parked. “You’re kidding, right?”

Court grinned. “Why not? We’re old enough now.”

“But—but,” she sputtered as Court got out and came around to open the door for her. Smokey’s was the closest thing Oak Ridge had to a biker bar. Situated on the outskirts of town, the ramshackle building was surrounded by a dilapidated wooden deck, which held an assortment of scarred tables and chairs. A few were occupied, the tabletops crowded with beer bottles, baskets of wings and fries and overflowing ashtrays.

The clientele ranged from the barely legal to clearly geriatric. The dress code consisted of scuffed jeans or overalls paired with T-shirts, along with baseball caps and work boots.

“I think I’m overdressed,” Jolie said.

“It’ll be fine.” He reached for her hand. “The food’s good, believe it or not. I’ll even let you beat me in a game of pool.”

“In that case, how can I refuse?” She took his hand, and a wave of longing went through her, along with a touch of melancholy. Court had made it clear that all he wanted from her was friendship, hadn’t he? She recalled the flare of interest she’d glimpsed in his eyes when she’d first opened the door. Was friendship really all he wanted?

A low whistle rose from the group on the deck as Jolie and Court ascended the steps. “Hey, baby.” From the corner of her eye, Jolie saw Court gesture in their direction, a sort of chopping motion. Quiet descended.

They went inside. Their arrival was acknowledged by turned heads and a brief drop in the hum of conversation. “I wish you’d told me where we were going,” Jolie murmured. “I wouldn’t have worn this.”

“Are you kidding? You look fantastic. Besides, this place could do with a little class. What do you want to drink?”

Ordering a glass of white wine might be a mistake. Beer, which she rarely drank, seemed like her best bet. “Light beer,” she replied. “Imported, if they have it.”

She stayed close to Court while the bartender got their orders. She wasn’t immune to the admiring glances—or in some cases, outright leers—directed her way. She felt like a fish out of water and wondered if Court had planned it that way.

He turned with two bottles of beer in one hand, held by the necks between his fingers. He nodded in the direction of the pool tables. “There’s one open. Want to play?”

Jolie lifted her chin. She had the feeling Court was playing some sort of game, but it had nothing to do with pool. Although she’d given up playing such games herself, she still remembered how. “Sure, why not?”

They made their way to the table. She set her purse down and Court handed her one of the bottles as he racked the balls. He came around and handed her a pool stick.

“What?” he asked.

“Did you bring me here to make me feel uncomfortable?”

“No, of course not.” His face fell as he looked around. “Is it that bad? I thought it would be fun. Didn’t you always want to come in here when you were a kid? I did. A bunch of us tried to get in with fake IDs.” He smiled at the memory. “Smokey kicked us out on our asses.” The smile faded. “I’m sorry. This was probably a bad idea. We can go to the Cedar View.” He moved to take the cue stick away from her.

“I’m being a snob, aren’t I?” She didn’t know if she’d meant to say that aloud or not.

“No, no, that’s not what I said.”

“You don’t have to.” Jolie looked into Court’s eyes. “That’s how I behaved in high school, like I was too good for just about everybody. I tell myself I’ve changed, but then I still act this way. Until someone points it out to me.”


She wrested the pool stick back from him and walked around the table. She picked up the chalk then lined up the cue ball. “Let’s stay.” She broke, dropping one ball in a side pocket. “You said the food’s good. And you’re right, I was always curious about this place.”




  1. Read and post positive reviews of NOBODY’S FOOL. Send proof of purchase (snapshot of receipt) and review site/handle posted under to with “CONTEST ENTRY” in the subject line = three entries per site.
  2. This could be a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, etc.
  3. Post a comment on any of my blog posts (on my blog or anywhere I guest blog) during the month of January – one entry per
  4. NOTE: You must visit the BLOG SITE and post your comment on the BLOG SITE. You can post more than one comment on the same blog, but it’s still one entry.
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  7. Any Facebook Author Page followers who SHARE my posts – one entry. The contest runs from January 1-31, 2015. You must be over 18 years of age to win.Five Winners will be notified by February 15, 2015.Prize is winner’s choice of any Barbara Meyers book, either print or eBook version.Winner will be announced on my Facebook Author Page, my web site and Twitter.Make sure you’ve left a way for me to contact you: Twitter handle, or email address when you post a comment.Feel free to share this post with others who might like what I write.



“I can’t believe you’re going to your high school reunion,” Val said to Jolie. “It’s so… Midwestern of you.”

“Want to come?”

“God, no.”

Jolie chuckled. Valentino Gonzalez, who rarely allowed himself to travel west of the East River, sprawled in a chair in the corner of her bedroom and leafed through her yearbook. With each page he turned he passed judgment on yet another of her former classmates. “Ugh, look at this hair. Someone should have told her plaid is not a good look on her. Oh, honey, get some contact lenses.”

“I’m sure your graduating class was filled with nothing but runway models and budding fashionistas.”

“My class at Glenwood Boys Academy wore matching blue blazers and red bow ties. We were all absolutely divine as I recall.”

“Uh-huh.” Jolie sorted through her underwear and nightclothes, putting those she wanted into the open suitcase on the bed.

“I found you!” Val exclaimed. “Weren’t you the busy bee?” He put his finger on the page and read aloud: “Varsity cheerleader; Drama Society; French club.” He glanced up. “You speak French?”

Oui, oui, monsieur.”

She turned to the closet as Val continued to read. “Homecoming court; Prom queen.”

He snorted. “Prom queen? How did I not know this about you?”

Jolie laid several items on the bed and began to slip them off their hangers to fold. “I don’t believe you ever asked.”

“There must be pictures.” Val began turning pages until he found them. “Oh. My. God! Look at you! You were a fairy princess amongst the trolls.” He studied the picture. “Your design?”

Jolie made a face. “Of course.”

“I love it.”

“You love everything I design.”

“Yes, but you were only what? Seventeen? Eighteen? Even then you had talent. Good thing you got out of that burg when you did, before the trolls ate you alive.”

Jolie silently agreed. She had escaped Oak Ridge, Illinois, but she hadn’t escaped the person she’d become while growing up there. This trip, she’d already decided, was about making peace with her past, her parents and anyone else she should have treated better or appreciated more.

“Who’s Courtney Harrison?”

Jolie stared at Val as a kaleidoscope of images spun through her brain from childhood to high school graduation.

“Jolie? You okay?”

Jolie snapped out of her memories. “He was the boy who lived next door.” She turned back to the closet and pretended to rummage through her clothes again even though she had everything she wanted.

“He wrote an entire page in your yearbook. The guy worshipped you.”

Jolie returned to the suitcase with two pairs of shoes and focused on wrapping them and tucking them into side pockets.

“Jo-lie,” Val singsonged.


“Tell me about the boy next door. Please?”

When Val smiled like that, Jolie found it hard to refuse him anything. He was the most divinely good-looking man she’d ever met. His bedroom brown eyes melted hearts everywhere. Men either envied him or lusted after him and women wept when they learned he was gay. “I’ll tell you,” she said. “But I’ll need a glass of wine first. Maybe two.”

Jolie gazed out the window of the 727 and tried to put her thoughts in order. Before

last night, she’d never discussed her relationship with Courtney Harrison with anyone. She hadn’t wanted to examine that self-centered, seventeen-year-old self too closely. Even Val, who knew her probably better than anyone, had been mildly shocked by her behavior.

“Quite the bitch, weren’t you?” He’d used a teasing tone, but he spoke the truth, neatly defining her behavior with Courtney in five words.

“I was horrible to him,” Jolie admitted out loud for the first time in her life. “Do you think he’s forgiven me?”

“Let’s see. He was in love with you. You broke his heart. You’ve avoided him for ten years and you’ve never apologized. I’m sure he’s fine.”

Jolie stared into her wine glass, not wanting Val to see how painful this conversation had become.

But Val was highly intuitive about such things. “Come on. It was high school,” he reminded her gently. “I’m sure he’s matured in the last ten years.” Val’s gaze softened on her and he tugged on a lock of her hair. “You did, didn’t you? You’re no longer that self-centered teenager. You’re sweet and kind—”

Jolie giggled. “I am not.”

“—sexy, sophisticated, smart and talented,” Val continued, ignoring the interruption. “I couldn’t be best friends with a snotty bitch.”

But Courtney had. He’d looked past all her faults back then and saw something more underneath. Jolie squirmed in her seat, knowing that was what frightened her the most. The boy next door had known her better than anyone. And had loved her anyway.

NOBODY’S FOOL release date January 6, 2015

Discounted Pre-order on Amazon here:


Picky Reader Disappointed

ajtillock2013 012First on my list of disappointments were some of my recent library book selections.  I could only read two out of five.  One was a Lee Child Jack Reacher novel.  The other was Betrayal by John Patrick Hunter.  The rejected ones were, in no particular order:  an award winning (literary?) novel so bogged down in excessive description I’m not sure a story existed; a historical novel that looked intriguing but again was so bogged down by historical information that had nothing to do with the actual story I gave up.  Note to self:  beware of historical novels written by British history professors.  Number three was a British chick lit(?) book, again, bogged down in a slow- moving set-up and a heroine(?) so depressed and depressing I knew I wouldn’t be able to get interested.  Why do British authors take so long to get into the story????

Why do I choose at least five books on each library trip?  Because I hope I can get through at least two of them.  Sometimes it’s more.  Sometimes it’s less.

Now, for the even bigger disappointment:  I took a fellow author up on a free ebook offer I saw on Facebook for one of her mystery series books.

I’ve never read this author before and tend to think I won’t again.  It appears she indie published this mystery, which I would think would make a professional author even more vigilant about proofreading, but apparently that is not the case in this instance.   The misspellings, usage errors and repetitiveness nearly drove me insane.  Add to that a heroine who can’t get it through her head (even after the investigating police detective assures her numerous times) that she is a witness and not a suspect.  She’s convinced she’ll end up in the slammer facing the death penalty unless she solves the case on her own.  It’s like she has a mental block or something.  I wanted to smack her.

Many of us are doing indie publishing these days, myself included, with mixed results.  I applaud the effort, but I wish the standards were higher, because a book like this makes us look bad.  Or I thought it would at least make this particular author look bad.  But such is not the case.  This book has four plus stars as its average rating on  I wish I could figure out why something I think sucks garners rave reviews.  Are these the author’s friends and family posting such positive comments?  Or are they readers who honestly thought this was a great book?  I wish I knew and I wish I had as many reader fans willing to post wonderful reviews of my books.

I won’t even ask my friends and family to read my books any more or to post reviews for me.  If they are inclined to do so on their own (most of them aren’t) that’s great and I appreciate it.  But if they don’t like my books, I don’t want them to lie on my behalf.  (Actually I do but I would never ask them to!)

I should no longer be surprised by the number of traditionally published books that are essentially about nothing.  By page 163 of a recent read I still had no idea what the point of the story was or where it was going.  I didn’t care about the main character or anything else.  I wish I’d given up on this one much sooner.

I’ve decided the test of a “good” book is how long it takes me to read it.  If I can’t wait to pick it up again, if I read to the exclusion of other leisure time activities (and that includes watching Sex and the City or Castle reruns while playing Bejeweled Blitz), then I’ve picked a winner.  Sadly, this doesn’t happen often enough.nqh-small

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#picky reader



Zip Driving

Recently I discovered my external Zip drive no longer functioned.  The date on the back of the unit is 1/24/2006 which is either the date it was manufactured or possibly its expiration date.  I’m sure many of you tech-savvy individuals, depending on your age, might not even know what a Zip drive is.  A very young employee of Best Buy certainly didn’t.

I have been writing for twenty-five plus years and I have created a LOT of precious written words.  Story ideas, partial manuscripts, articles, essays, poetry, etc.  I saved everything I’d ever written because you never know when you can resurrect it and fix it and sell it. Proof of this is my first book with Samhain Publishing.  Published in 2009, the original manuscript for A MONTH FROM MIAMI dates back to 1998.Miami300dpiEDIT

But I had a problem.  I didn’t have hard copies of everything I’d written, although I do have boxes and boxes of printed matter stored under the guest room bed.  Most of those incomplete projects were backed up on Zip discs.  Uh oh.  I was dying to start work on something called Sara’s Silence (circa 1995).  A deaf mute falls in love with a rock musician.  Don’t laugh.  I’m pretty sure this is a viable story idea.  I looked at the stuff I’d written that I could access but I knew I’d done more on it.  It’s so frustrating to remember scenes you know you’ve written and not be able to find them.  I was never going to find them without a ZIP drive.  Which is such antiquated technology it isn’t manufactured or sold any more.  Except through obscure sites accessed through

Filled with trepidation I ordered a “new” unit from one of those vendors for about $65.  I am notoriously bad about reading the fine print.  When the unit arrived I discovered its birthdate.  Or expiration date.  2/23/2000.  Oh, well if it worked, I wouldn’t care.  If it didn’t, I was up the crick without a paddle.

It didn’t even have a USB port connection but instead the old whatever they’re called connectors.  Parallel ports?xmas2013 010

About this time I am thanking God that my husband didn’t listen to me when I told him we should replace our old desktop computer with a newer model.  If we had, I wouldn’t have been able to connect my “new” Zip drive at all.  I’d be completely screwed.  I never read directions and I’m the least techie person you will ever meet, but I knew enough to install the Zip program and after a few hiccups I could read the files on my precious discs.  I bought a brand new flash drive to transfer all those files onto and I spent two hours doing it.  Whew!  Mission accomplished. I was saved.

Hooray!  I can now access multiple file folders labeled “Sara’s Silence.”  Alas, they all appear to be empty.

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I Don’t Know Him But I Think I Love Him

51Lt2jJTdsL__SY346_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_I never Tweet.  Mostly because I don’t understand Twitter.  I haven’t read my Dummies for Twitter book even though I’ve had it for a year.  Besides, who has the time?  Between writing fiction, song lyrics, the occasional poem, keeping up with e-mail, working a day job, life in general, and figuring out a new laptop, seriously I don’t have time to Tweet even if I knew what to Tweet about.

My new Toshiba laptop ate my Music and Lyrics DVD.  That’s what I Tweeted this morning because it’s true, weird, perhaps slightly interesting to my few followers.  I even attempted the hashtag thing.  This on my cell phone, but when I hit the right button to see who had Tweeted about me (no one ever does as far as I know, but I never check and Twitter just makes me feel more anonymous than I usually do) lo and behold, someone has posted a Tweet about me!  Not about me, exactly, but about my short story “Katy’s Place” which appears in the anthology I NEVER THOUGHT I’D SEE YOU AGAIN.  It’s a positive review.  Dare I say a glowing review?

My day, probably my week has been made.  I can float around in la-la land at least that long thinking “he likes me, he really likes me (my story anyway).”

If you’re not a writer you won’t get why this is such a big deal.  Even as a published author I languish in obscurity.  Mostly this doesn’t bother me.  My novels get good reviews but what counts in the publishing world is what I don’t have a lot of:  sales.

There are many days when you wonder is anyone reading my work?  Does anyone know it exists?  Am I just spinning my wheels?  I need reviews, validation, something, to keep me going.  Simple acknowledgment, maybe.

I’m supposed to use social media to market my work and I would…but me and technology, we don’t get along (see above description of disappearing DVD).

God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t He?  I rarely post on Twitter.  I’ve never lost a DVD inside a laptop, either.  But if I hadn’t I doubt I would have seen Nathan’s review.  God must have known that was exactly what I needed.  Let’s all order Nathan’s book.

Short Stories 365:225

          Blog Post by ‘Nathan Burgoine – Aug.13.2013 – 4:07 pm:

“….”Katy’s Place,” by Barbara Meyers

This  story was a well-balanced story that was dark – and hopeful – in parts.  The set-up is this: Cassie, a woman who as a teen lost control of her  car and had an accident that claimed the life of her best friend has  just come face-to-face with the friend’s mother, many years later. Is  there forgiveness? Cassie isn’t sure, but when her dead friend’s mother  asks for time to sit and talk to her, Cassie accepts. What follows is an  eloquent – and at times, almost painful – recounting of Cassie’s life  as she tells the mother everything she has done to try and pay back a  debt she knows full well she can never repay.

The story then  gives the mother a chance to speak, and the ending – well. If you don’t  have a shiver up and down your spine, I think you may have missed a word  or two. I Never Thought I’d See You Again continues to deliver.”

Picky Reader Honked Off

I grew up in a household without a lot of money or luxury and learned early on to feed my reading addiction through the public library. I have a Kindle and occasionally I purchase books in digital format (usually when I have a gift certificate) but I still often seek out reading material at the public library.

Usually my library visit goes like this: I stroll the fiction aisles looking for something that snags my interest. A title, an author name, the design or color of the spine. It’s hard to say why I pull my choices from the rows and rows of books available. I’ve never figured out what attracts any one reader to any one book. I don’t think the experts have either.

Usually I leave the library with three to five books. I have to pad my loaned items with one or two extras in case any of what I’ve chosen proves unreadable.

On my most recent trip I chose three books. I started the first one, a novel about a woman’s disappearance. I read to page fifty-six and set it aside. It’s a possibility. I may go back and finish it, but it’s 372 pages and it’s moving sooooo slowwwwly I can hardly stand it.

I pick up book number two written by a male author. (You may recall from earlier Picky Reader blogs that I vowed to make myself read more books by male authors.) This one’s about a down-and-out member of the Hollywood paparazzi. I read until page seventeen and wonder if this is the kind of character I want to read about. A loan shark has had him beaten up. He’s outclassed by his competition. He can’t go back to his house for a variety of reasons. Depressing. I set the book aside. I may go back and finish it.

On to book number three which looks promising. It has the kind of contemporary romance-y/womens’ fiction-y cover I’m attracted to and I think it has possibilities. Until the first line in the second chapter stops me cold. “Tom pulled his eyes from Sarah’s, and it wasn’t easy.”* Huh? What? Are their eyeballs stuck together? Sticky eyeballs. It’s all I can think about. Any author worth her salt should know after the first three books she’s had published (this appears to be her fourth) that “gaze” is the word we use to keep “eyes” from doing things we don’t want them to do. If she didn’t know this, her editor should have.

But…this is a potentially appealing story, so I’ll keep reading. Until I’m stopped again on page thirty-seven: “…a chasm between her and God.” Rats. Is this a Christian romance?

Usually I check the publisher before I take a book home. Nothing about the publisher’s name sends up red flags, but when I look at the back cover I see it in teeny tiny print: FICTION/Christian/Romance. Grrrr.

I don’t have anything against Christian romance novels. I just don’t like to read them. They so often strike me as “preaching to the choir” and not quite true to life. I often have to stretch my believability so far to buy into the characters behaving the way they do in a contemporary setting that I can’t do it. I also wonder why this isn’t more boldly advertised as a Christian romance. Why that barely readable print on the back cover? Is the publisher afraid readers will avoid the book if they know?

So here I am stuck with three potentially losing books. It isn’t the writing, necessarily, and it isn’t always the editing. It’s that indefinable something that draws one reader to rave about a book and another to rate it with half a star.

I decided to stick with the Christian romance because… I don’t know why. Because. Because sometimes when you know a book isn’t that great, you read it anyway just to see how the author gets herself out of it. Another gem: “Tom steadied her, his hands burning the skin on her arms.” Ouch! I’m more than halfway through the book and this isn’t the first time this has happened. Between the sticky eyeballs and his hands burning her, this poor woman is scarred for life.

Did I mention this book is based on a lie of deception on the part of the heroine…a withholding of the truth on the part of the hero, another lie of deception on the heroine’s part as the plot thickens and she brings her cousin into the scheme. The cousin, at least, partially comes clean pretty quickly.

“It had been a task keeping his eyes off her.” This makes me think, (since I already know he has sticky eyes) that they are detachable and he can stick them on her anywhere he wants. Velcro, maybe.

“…and she felt his eyes on hers.” How uncomfortable that must have been.

In the end I finished all three books. The book by the male author? By far the one I enjoyed the most and, dare I say, the best written of the three. This appeared to be a first novel by a television writer with a lot of impressive credits. The slow-moving book’s pace (also a first novel by an award-winning writer) never picked up. I skipped a lot of it, especially the in-depth character studies, couched as character reminiscences to make me understand why they are the way they are.

All I can say to my Picky Reader self is better luck next time.

*Names of characters have been changed.

You can find out more about the books I’ve read and visit my author page on Goodreads.

The One

The One – Chapter One

Spending the summer pressed up against a ten really messed with my self-esteem. Try it sometime. Tens think they’re perfect, like they’re worth so much more than me and others like me. It’s the story of my life. I’ve been used. Abused. Forgotten. Ignored. I can’t even buy a decent cup of coffee in most places. Oh, sure, when a bunch of us get together, we can be impressive in large numbers. But out there alone, on our own? Forget it.

The first cold day, Stacy Cunningham put on her coat and touched me again. Her cool fingers wrapped around both me and the ten and suddenly there we were, out of that silk-lined coat pocket and into the light of day. Stacy squealed with delight. I’d been listening to her squeals on a regular basis all summer, actually, being right there in her bedroom closet every day and every night and her being a newlywed and all. I’d heard it all. The heavy breathing, the contented sighs, the pillow talk.

A wallet isn’t my favorite place to be either, but at least you get to go places. A woman’s wallet is my preference if I’m given a choice which I’m not. But being folded in half and sat on by some sweaty, farting guy isn’t my idea of fun. At least Stacy’s wallet wasn’t too crowded. A couple of twenties, another ten and several of my brethren. Those tens? They’ll stick together. The twenties can’t even be bothered to acknowledge our presence. There’s some grumbling as we join them and they’re forced to shift their positions. I hunker down for the duration because what else am I going to do? The ten pinches me. Jerk.

A door opens and closes and I can tell we’re outside. The temperature drops and I try not to shiver. Oh, Stacy, Stacy, where are we going? I hope it’s somewhere warm. I may not have been crazy about being in that dark coat pocket, but at least I was reasonably comfortable.

I can hear traffic and bits and pieces of conversation from passers-by. The click of heels. A car horn every once in awhile. Nothing to do but wait it out and hope for the best. I’ve done a lot of that in my lifetime.

I’ve been dropped in the basket at more than one church. Tucked into a sweaty stripper’s G-string. I spent an entire day in a Starbucks tip jar before I got dumped into a plastic bag and dropped into the safe for a week. Then it was off to the bank, into a drawer at the drive-up window until a construction worker cashed his paycheck. (See aforementioned experience being sat on by a sweaty, farting male.) I spent some time on a bar that night before I was plucked up to pay for a beer. See? No respect. Then it’s back in some cash drawer, dropped into a safe, a new bank, a new drawer, and the cycle starts all over.

It can be exciting. A little scary. Sometimes it’s a dead bore. Especially if I get stuck somewhere. I spent a year in some kid’s piggy bank with a bunch of cold, hard-assed coins. Most of them are worthless. There wasn’t even a hunky silver-dollar for me to pal around with. I got pummeled every time more coins fell on me through the slot at the top. I was nearly buried alive, but the glimpse of daylight through the slot was the one thing that kept me going. One of these days, I swore, I’d get out of there. And when I did, watch out.

That kid, Devin? He was hard worker which, from what I can glean, is a rare thing these days. I found out why he was saving his money when he took the entire piggy bank to a store one day, pulled the plug on the bottom (who knew there was an alternate escape route beneath me the entire time?) and emptied it out onto the counter to the consternation of a store clerk. He pointed to a small, antique jewelry box in the display case. The clerk sighed and started counting. Into the cash drawer I went. I have no idea what Devin’s mom looks like, but I like to imagine the look of pleasure on her face when he gave her her birthday present. Incidents like these may not restore my faith in the economic system but they give me hope for humankind.

I hear a bell tinkle and almost immediately the temperature in Stacy’s wallet starts to rise. It’s still cool but at least I’m not freezing my serial number off. Wherever we are, it’s relatively quiet. I hear an older female voice ask if she can help Stacy and Stacy responds that she’s going to browse for a bit.

I don’t nap but sometimes I zone out. Especially if it’s dark and warm and semi-comfortable wherever I am. Like now. It’s quiet, too. That helps.

The next thing I know, bright light hits me. Stacy’s plunked her handbag onto the counter and she’s opened her wallet. “Oh,” trills the older female voice, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” I imagine her peering at Stacy expectantly.

Next thing I know I’m in Stacy’s hand, being shuffled around and handed over. The old lady’s hand is soft. Probably as soft as a baby’s behind although I will admit that’s one place I’ve never been. More shuffling and then I’m tucked into another drawer. So what else is new?

Goodbye, Stacy. I’ll miss your squeals of delight.

In lieu of a September newsletter (not much going on in my writing/publishing world) I offer the beginning of “The One.” This might be(come) a short story. I don’t know exactly what it is, but I like the idea of infusing inanimate objects with the ability to observe and comment on their surroundings and experiences.

Want to read short stories by me and other Novelists, Inc. members? Experience the 2013 anthology I NEVER THOUGHT I’D SEE YOU AGAIN.

A sequel to my short story “Katy’s Place” appears in the previous blog post.

Enjoy. Comments always welcome!

In Katy’s Place

    In Katy’s Place

A Short Story
Copyright 7/21/13 by Barbara Meyers

“Katy?” Cassie Emerson whispered in disbelief. “Is that really you?”
Katy Robbins laughed, the sound somewhere between a hearty guffaw and a delicate tinkling bell. Cassie hadn’t heard Katy laugh in over fifteen years. She’d missed it so much. Tears misted her eyes.
“It’s me, girl. Not exactly in the flesh you understand, but still me.”
Cassie blinked, trying to focus on Katy’s smile, something else she’d been missing. But Katy’s face appeared out of focus, as if someone hadn’t had a steady hand when they’d taken a picture of her and this was the result.
Cassie strained to see the rest of Katy, but what she saw was more of the same, a blurry form of what had once been her best friend in the world.
“I’ve missed you so much,” Cassie whispered, wondering where her voice had gone. Tears leaked from her eyes. “Katy, I’m so sorry.”
Katy’s smile turned sad. “Me too. On both counts. Although it’s not so bad here.”
“Where’s here? Where are we?”
“We’re in “The Middle.” That’s what we call it, anyway.”
“Who’s we?”
“The others. The ones with unfinished business. The ones who can’t let go or who don’t want to.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Neither did I. Not for a long time. But after you’ve been here for awhile it all gets clearer.” She gestured at her blurry form. “Well, not all, I suppose.”
“Am I—did I die?” Cassie asked, the thought horrifying her. Images of her husband, her little girl, her parents, raced through her mind. Had she left them all behind? Was her time with them done? No, it couldn’t be. She wasn’t ready. She hadn’t prepared.
“I wasn’t ready either,” Katy said.
“You read my mind?”
“No,” Katy told her in a wistful tone. “It’s what I thought when I first got here. It’s what we all think. ‘I’m not ready’ or ‘there’s so much more I want to do.’ The details are different, but it’s mostly the same thought.
“I won’t get to see Riley grow up,” Cassie said as more tears leaked from her eyes. “I’ll never see Tyler again or my parents. I wish I could tell them I love them one more time.”
“Not everyone who comes here stays. Maybe you’ll be one of those.”
Cassie was afraid of the hope that welled inside her. “You stayed.”
Katy’s chuckle held a tinge of regret. “I was one of the ones who didn’t have a choice. After the accident…let’s just say I had nowhere to go.”
“I’m sorry, Katy. I’m so sorry. I don’t even remember the accident. All I remember is waking up in the hospital and my mom telling me you had died. I wished it had been me. Oh, Katy, you don’t know how many times I wished it had been me.”
“Ssh, Cassie. It’s all right.”
Cassie thought she felt something brush her arm, something light and ethereal, something she could feel below her skin but not on it. A warm glowing kind of comfort spread from her forearm to her shoulder.
“Can you forgive me?”
“Can you forgive yourself?” Katy asked.
“I want to. But I’ve always been afraid you hate me and that you blame me. Your mother does.”
“I know. It’s been hard on her.”
“On your whole family. She came to see me a few years ago.”
“I know.”
Cassie stared at Katy’s cloudy face, trying to see her freckles and red hair, trying to look into those blue eyes of hers. If she focused and concentrated she could almost get a glimpse of the complete Katy before the image blurred again.
“Are you a ghost?” she blurted. “You’re so fuzzy.”
Katy laughed and it made Cassie smile. That was something they’d always done when they were together. They’d laughed. Even if they weren’t doing anything, just hanging out, they’d come up with something crazy and laugh themselves silly.
“I love your laugh. I always did.”
“We had some good times, didn’t we? All those sleepovers at your house? Pretending we were the Spice Girls.”
“I was Posh and you were Ginger.”
“Walking the beach, checking out guys, wishing they’d check us out.”
“Although at the time, we didn’t have much of anything for them to check out did we?” Cassie grinned remembering junior high like it was yesterday. She and Katy had shared their fears. What if they never had boyfriends? What if they did and they didn’t know how to kiss properly? And their triumphs. Katy’s softball team winning the county championship. Cassie’s piano solo going off without a hitch.
Cassie reached for Katy. Again she felt that brush of warmth, but there was nothing she could hold onto. “I’ve never had another friend like you. I want you to know that. I think about you all the time. I still miss you.”
“I don’t know how you could ever forget me. Not with this where you see it every day.”
Cassie felt that warm touch on her wrist where she had Katy’s initials tattooed inside a wreath of roses. “My mom made me wait until I was eighteen. I was so mad at her for that. But on my birthday she went with me.”
“I know. I was there. Sort of.”
“I’m glad. Sort of. But I wish you’d really been there.”
“If I had been whose initials would you have gotten?”
“No initials. Remember when we used to talk about that? We were going to go together for our first tattoos.”
“And backpack through Europe after high school—“
“Room together in college—“
“Open a restaurant.”
“I did all that,” Cassie said wistfully. “Except for backpacking through Europe. I did it without you.”
“You didn’t have a choice,” Katy reminded her.
Cassie sighed. “I wanted to be the kind of person you’d be proud to be friends with. I thought if I was it would make up for killing you.”
“Oh, Cassie, you didn’t kill me. You lost control of your car and I died. It’s that simple.”
“It wasn’t simple. It made everything so hard. That one moment that I can’t remember, that I can’t change.”
“I know. Everyone grieved because I was gone, but I was sad that you were still there. You had to live with it. I didn’t.”
“Katy, I love you. I always loved you. I never could explain how important you were to me to anyone. They never understood what losing you did to me.”
“I understand.”
“I know you do.” Cassie sighed. She closed her eyes “It’s so peaceful here. I’m so tired.”
“Do you want to see your little girl again?”
With an effort Cassie opened her eyes. “Riley.”
Katy grinned. “I still can’t believe you named your daughter after my dog. That was dumb.”
“You loved that dog.”
“I did. He was a good dog.”
“Is he here? Your mom told me he died.”
“I haven’t seen him. He’s probably romping through a field somewhere digging up bones.”
Cassie closed her eyes again.
“You didn’t answer my question. Do you want to see Riley again? Do you want to see her grow up?”
Cassie blinked, trying to keep her eyes open. “I do. But I’m so tired. I don’t know how to get back there.”
“You have to fight. You have to want it. You’ve got a place to go back to. I didn’t. It’s not easy to get out of here, but you can do it if you want it bad enough.”
“I’ll try.” Cassie felt like she was fading away.
“My mother had to live without her daughter. Don’t make your daughter grow up without her mother.”
“I won’t. I’ll try. I promise.”
“Good. And Cassie?”
Cassie felt that now familiar warmth close to her hear and words taking shape and floating from there to her heart. “I forgive you.”
A soft moan escaped her lips when she became aware once again of the pain, the scent of the hospital environment, the blip and whir of the machines that monitored her life.
A strong hand wrapped around her fingers and she felt a touch against her temple. She struggled to open her eyes, to fight for her place in the world as Katy insisted she must. Tyler smiled and squeezed her hand. “Someone here wants to see you,” he told her softly.
He bent down and the next thing Cassie felt was the press of Riley’s lips against her cheek. Cassie closed her eyes as more tears leaked from them. “Don’t cry, Mommy. “ Riley’s tiny finger brushed at a tear. “Don’t be sad,” she whispered.
Cassie smiled and opened her eyes again. “I’m not sad, honey.” Her gaze took in the two people she loved most in the world.” Behind them she thought she saw a blurry form waving to her. “I’m happy.” She made herself focus again on her daughter and her husband. “For a moment there, I thought I’d never see you again.”


As promised in my newsletter yesterday, this is the sequel to my short story “Katy’s Place” which appears in the 2013 Novelists, Inc. anthology, I NEVER THOUGHT I’D SEE YOU AGAIN.    Check it out here: